February/March 2014 National REACH Coalition Newsletter

"Advancing Racial and Ethnic Health Equity"
NRC Celebrates African American Heritage
the Healthy Way

NRC's Feb/March 2014 Newsletter highlights the importance of establishing a connection between African American heritage and healthier lifestyle practices. 

February is recognized as Black History Month, a time of year when communities across the United States celebrate the accomplishments of our country’s black historical leaders and health equity pioneers, such as Martin Luther King Jr. The vision and sacrifice of countless civil right trailblazers have empowered African Americans to overcome astonishing hardships and inequalities.  However, despite these triumphs, racial and ethnic health disparities continue to rise.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) 2012 National Healthcare Disparities Report, one in five African Americans still lack health insurance and suffer from high rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. 
During February we also observe American Heart month.  African American and Hispanic women, in particular, have higher rates of the major risk factors for heart disease including obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The NRC takes this opportunity to feature the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and its heart disease awareness campaign, The Heart Truth.  The campaign reminds all American women, specifically those of African American and Hispanic descent, that heart disease prevention remains critically important to their health. 


As with many cultures, the traditional diets of African American communities have been found to heighten the risk for developing chronic diseases. A study by the American Heart Association (AHA) suggest that some African Americans may carry a gene, which makes them more salt sensitive and at higher risk for developing high blood pressure.  Given these findings, it is apparent that healthier food options are necessary to help decrease the incidence of high blood pressure within the African American community.  The month of March is recognized as National Nutrition Month, a time to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits that can decrease the risk of chronic diseases within communities of color.


 Support the NRC's Efforts Towards the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Health Equity
The NRC remains committed to building the capacity of communities of color to achieve health equity as racial and ethnic health disparities in the U.S. continue to rise. During Black history month, we renew this commitment to bridging the gap between health and social resources for undeserved populations. Support our mission today! Help further the advancement of racial and ethnic health equity by making a donation to the NRC Annual Fund.
Join us in building a healthier future for all communities of color across the U.S. 


                    Quick Facts                  

  • Hypertension is more prevalent among African American women than any other group of women: 46 percent of African American women 20 years of age and older have hypertension, compared to  only 31 percent of white women and 29 percent of Hispanic women in the same age bracket.
  • An estimated four out of five African American women are overweight or obese, compared to other ethnicities in the U.S.
  • On average, African Americans are twice as likely to have diabetes as Whites. The highest incidence of diabetes in African Americans occurs between 65-75 years of age.
  • One in five African Americans lack health insurance and suffer from high rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma; and many live in communities with limited access to healthy affordable food and nutrition.  
  • Heart disease is more prevalent among black women than white women—as are some of the factors that increase the risk of developing it, including high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, and diabetes.
  • Source: Net Wellness
NRC Mission:
To Increase the capacity of underserved racial and ethnic communities across the U.S. to achieve health equity.

About Us:
The National REACH Coalition (NRC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, located in Washington D.C., that is committed to the elimination of health disparities and the achievement of health equity among racial and ethnic minorities. 

This NRC Newsletter Edition Features Stories On:





Summary of Health Insurance Exchanges and Medicaid Expansion Benefits Available on NRC Website

New health insurance options have taken effect since the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Health Insurance Exchanges (HIE), opened across the country on October 1, 2013.  To make it easier for consumers to understand what is currently available in their locations, the NRC provides a state-by-state summary of free and easily accessible information about HIE and Medicaid Expansion.
Visit the NRC website today to learn more about HIE and Medicaid Expansion and find out what particular resources are available in each state.

We will update these resources periodically, so please check our website often for the latest information.
How Obesity has Become Part of African

American Culture

Obesity is a growing epidemic in this country, with Americans eating more and becoming less and less active. Seventy-three percent of adults and 43 percent of all children in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Being overweight increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, arthritis and certain cancers. In fact, obesity could become more dangerous for your health than smoking cigarettes. Yet, in the African-American community, the so-called normal body image is skewed toward the unhealthy. Studies show a strong tendency to deem larger body sizes as acceptable, particularly for women.

“Many African-American women view being obese as part of their culture,” says Thaddeus Bell, M.D., a family practitioner in South Carolina, in an online interview for icyou.com.

This may account for the staggering statistic that 4 out of 5 African-American women are overweight or obese. It is even more alarming that some of these women are making a choice to intentionally live at an unhealthy weight.


Fast-food companies also gear marketing efforts toward minority communities. While offhand these ads may appear culturally-sensitive, studies show that ethnic minorities are more responsive to these targeted ads and such marketing is, in fact, manipulative. This poses a dilemma as many of these ads are for less-than-healthy food and beverage options.

There are, however, national efforts to reverse these unhealthy perceptions and traditions. The “Black Women DO Workout” website and organizations such as the National Black Marathoners’ Association are encouraging African-Americans to pursue healthier lifestyles. With the proper resources and the importance of health being added to tradition, African-American families can begin passing down family fitness and health, rather than obesity and preventable diseases.

Cook your favorite foods with less added fat

checkmarkIf you usually deep-fry, try sautéing vegetables in low salt chicken or beef broth.

CheckmarkReplace fats like bacon grease and butter with olive or canola oil.

CheckmarkTry steaming vegetables, and add a few spices for flavor.

CheckmarkTaste your food before you add butter- you may be surprised at how good fresh corn is all by itself.

CheckmarkReplace heavy cream sauces and butter with low fat or non-fat sour cream and try putting sauces on the side.

CheckmarkEnjoy seasonal fruit for dessert, such as berries, citrus fruits, pears, cherries or grapes.

CheckmarkTry eating your vegetables raw with some low-calorie salad dressing.

Source: MSNBC's The Grio Opinion (Author: Dr. Tyeese Gaines)

New Surgeon General's Report Released

   50 Year Mark For Tobacco Prevention

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. On January 16, 2014, a new Surgeon General‘s Report was released that presents updated information on the health consequences of smoking, and discusses what can be done to help end the tobacco epidemic in the United States.  
Learn more: 


In addition, there is a new resource on the Surgeon General’s web site called  “Clearing the Air”, a podcast with Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.  The podcast stresses the urgency to clear the air of second-hand smoke, so everyone is equally protected from the negative health effects caused by smoking in the workplace.

Tune into the podcast:



NRC Highlights Tobacco Ad Campaigns Targeting Youth


NRC partners with the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN) to increase culturally-appropriate messaging on tobacco control and prevention activities.

Every year, the tobacco industry spends spend billions of dollars on advertising and promotion. Point-of-purchase advertising and promotions target and attract shoppers right at the places where they can immediately buy the specific products or brands. In the 2012 report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that the advertising and promotional efforts of the tobacco companies caused the initiation and progression of tobacco use among youth. 

The products shown above are tobacco products that appear similar to candy, gum and other child-friendly products. The advertisement, created by BreatheND, a co-partner of NAATPN, reinforces the tobacco industry's strategy for purposely adding child-like features to the tobacco products in order to appeal to a younger generation. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Cigarette Report for 2011, found that point-of-purchase advertising and promotion even influences what products and brands kids buy and use. Tobacco marketing to children is a growing epidemic that reinforces the importance of NRC's partnership with the NAATPN.

2013 Accomplishments

Over the past 14 years, the CDC's REACH program has been instrumental in addressing racial and ethnic health disparities by providing dedicated funding to almost 200 undeserved communities.  As one of six national networks, the NRC funded 15 communities through the REACH 2012 program in February 2013.  Six of these sub-recipients will complete their sub-contracts with the NRC by March 2014.  Below are brief descriptions of their efforts, which resulted in positive change in their local communities.
University of Illinois at Chicago 
Chicago, Illinois
The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Midwest Latino Health Research, Training, and Policy Center located in Chicago, Illinois, worked to engage the African-American and Latino populations by encouraging healthy eating habits and physical activity for local residents. Twelve municipalities in South Suburban Cook County and Lake County, have at least 50% or more African-American and/or Latino residents. Unfortunately, 50% or more of the municipalities qualified as food deserts, and 50% or more of the total population lived below the Cook County median range, according the U.S. Census Fact Finder. The UIC developed and facilitated four 30-hour Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) training sessions in English and Spanish for 26 local organizations. As a result, the training's participants learned how to effectively tailor their efforts to improve accessibility, affordability, and consumption of healthy foods for an estimated 270,000 individuals in 11 municipalities. UIC also hosted the Midwest Regional Food Workshop for local residents titled, Food: A Path to Healthy and Sustainable Communities, which featured experts in the field and other community-based organizations.  

Amparo Castillo, MD, PhD, Daniel Block, PhD, and Sheila Castillo, MUPP, both moderated community- group breakout sessions during the Midwest Regional Food Workshop, which focused on ways for residents to obtain access to healthier food options.

Regional Asthma Management Prevention
Oakland, California
Regional Asthma Management & Prevention (RAMP), a project of the Public Health Institute, located in Oakland, CA, worked to address health inequities in the San Francisco Bay county of California. In 2001, African-Americans and Latino residents were disproportionately represented among adult smokers. Additionally, 74.9% of Latino adults and 69.2% of African-American adults were classified as overweight or obese. RAMP’s efforts to address health equity was accomplished by the implementation of a Family Information and Navigation Desk (FIND) within a busy pediatric primary care clinic.  The FIND initiative is part of Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland, CA, where families identify needs - including housing, food insecurity, physical activity opportunities, and child care - that impact their overall health.  Thus far, 274 patients have been served by the initiative, which is staffed by three trained volunteer navigators.  In addition, as part of a larger regional effort, RAMP has collaborated with partner organizations to train approximately 100 college student volunteer navigators to staff Family Navigation Desks at three different medical settings in the San Francisco Bay Area.  To date, more than 850 families have been assisted cross all four sites.


Dr. Dayna Long (right), Children's Hospital pediatrician and director of the Family Information and Navigation Desk (FIND) program at Children's Hospital, talks with D'Juan Brown (left), 9, as she examines him at Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland - Oakland Primary Care Clinic on Claremont in Oakland Calif.

Institute for Family Health/Bronx Health REACH
Brooklyn, New York

According to the 2010 Census, ninety-six percent of the South Bronx population is African-American or Latino, two groups that are highly affected by the obesity epidemic.  The Institute for Family Health's, Bronx Health REACH's initiative, focused on increasing the overall health and wellness of its youth. In collaboration with local partners, Bronx Health REACH developed a comprehensive health and wellness implementation plan that identified policy, environmental and system improvements to reduce obesity and hypertension in local elementary schools. To date, their efforts have resulted in successful partnerships and a social media campaign that included an estimated 3,200 Instagram followers. Additionally, Bronx Health REACH looks forward to working with the new Mayoral administration to continue expanding the implementation of their plans across the city.

Community member Raphael Schweizer from the Bronx Park East Community Association provides healthy food education and gives kids the opportunity to taste various types of fruits and other healthy items. 

YMCA of Greater Cleveland
Cleveland, Ohio
For the past 50 years, Cleveland, OH, has experienced a large number of its residents migrating outside of the local area, which has led to an increase of the city's poverty rate.  Local residents also experienced a rapid increase of diminished health due to the lack of safe and convenient facilities that could support an active and healthy lifestyle in the local community.  The YMCA therefore directed their efforts on increasing physical activity for African American residents, who were living a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle. They successfully held their annual Youth Marathon Program, which included 400-500 runners. They also offered Body Age Screenings, which is a tool that makes the comparison between screening age vs actual age, by scoring physical fitness. This screening was completed with 30 participants to help motivate and hopefully increase their levels of physical fitness. Additionally, the YMCA created an effective outreach campaign that included the design and placement of two bus wraps to further promote and encourage bicycling activities in the local area. This outreach campaign resulted in over 3 million views of the bus wrap within the first 3 months.
The YMCA's outreach campaign included the display of bus wraps across the local area,  encouraging community members to increase their level of physical fitness.

Center for Multicultural Health
Seattle, Washington

The increased prevalence of chronic disease among African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians in the Seattle area led the Center for Multicultural Health (CMCH) to develop culturally-tailored healthy eating and tobacco cessation initiatives. CMCH’s community health assessment of Seattle and King County, discovered that the area had one of the highest rates of adult smokers in the United States. CMCH successfully encouraged two organizations to adopt a culturally-tailored tobacco cessation toolkit. The toolkit, Fighting the Power of Tobacco, reached a total of 4,000 people. CMCH also collaborated with a local partner to work with 1 community center kitchen to create a healthy recipe book of culturally-tailored recipes. They were able to reach more than 3,800 people through the dissemination of the recipe book.  CMCH has also been successful in securing funds to sustain their local initiatives.  

 The CMCH worked with a local community center to host a Halloween event for local youth. The kids made healthy snacks during the event, while their mothers performed Zumba, a physical fitness activity.

Brooklyn Perinatal Network
Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn Perinatal Network’s (BPN) project was developed to address the high obesity and high infant mortality rates, along with the limited access to healthy foods, in Brownsville and East New York. BPN collaborated with local farmers markets to offer NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Health Bucks that subsidized the cost of food items for the market's visitors. To further encourage healthy eating habits, BPN facilitated 5 cooking demonstrations at 3 farmers market community events. In an effort to support and promote the local farmer’s market, BPN collaborated with the local movie theatre to air a promotional clip before each movie shown between September and November 2013. The clip was aired 7,275 times and seen by more than 157,000 viewers.  
Lastly, BPN addressed the high rates of infant mortality by training peer educators at a local high school. The training included preconception health and focused particularly on areas of infant mortality, health disparities, nutrition, active living, and tobacco cessation.  


The Brooklyn Perinatal Network (BPN) partnered with local farmers markets to increase the local resident's access to healthy and organic foods.



CTG Sub-recipients Highlight Program's Success at NRC Virtual Event


The NRC held its first virtual event featuring the 2012-2013 Community Transformation Grant* (CTG) sub-recipients on January 28, 2014. The NRC's Virtual Community Showcase: Success and Sustainability, provided a platform for CTG sub-awardees to share the success of their community-based initiatives with potential funders, media and marketing representatives, NRC peers, and other CTG national networks. Invited speakers included Atlantic Philanthropies' Program Officer, Stacey Easterling, who presented key tips and tools community-based projects could utilize to increase the chances of program sustainability. Along with, Chris Cathcart, Founder of OneDiaspora Group, who highlighted the ways in which community-based initiatives could strategically network with media outlets, to gain positive local and national media coverage.  

Virtual speakers were available throughout the  event to answer questions from attendees seeking to gain additional insight into the steps necessary to build and sustain future community-based projects.

Presentations will be available on NRC's website shortly.
The Communities Featured Included:
Mariposa Community Health Center (MCHC) – Nogales, AZ
Presenter: Matthew Fornoff, MPH, Food System Coordinator, MCHC   

Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan – Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Presenter: Tristen Anthony, MPH, Research Associate, Michigan Public Health Institute  
Caffee, Caffee, and Associates Public Health Foundation (CCA) – Hattiesburg, MS
Presenter: Brenda Bell-Caffee, Executive Director, CCA

Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) – Georgetown, SC
Presenter: Carolyn Jenkins, DrPH, Professor and Director, MUSC     

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) – Bessemer, AL
Presenter: Theresa Wynn-Wallace, PhD, Program Director, UAB
*The Community Transformation Grant (CTG) is a program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

NRC-CTG's Technical Assistance Workshop Set for March 2014

The NRC-CTG's Technical Assistance (TA) Workshop will take place March 11-13, 2014, in Culver City, California. 

The upcoming TA workshop will offer attendees useful resources and tools that can be used to create and sustain successful community-based projects. Workshop attendees will have the opportunity to network with other CTG sub-recipients and discuss effective strategies that could be implemented in their communities. Stay tuned for the latest updates on the upcoming workshop.
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